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pickleI’m no better than Lance.  If I think something will give me an edge in a race, I’m going to try it.  Within reason.  I won’t wear compression socks because they make me look like a school girl in knee-highs.  So maybe I am different than Lance.  Let me share with you my knowledge and experience with performance enhancers, starting with Cialis.

It just so happens that I have a prescription for Cialis.  I don’t expect I’ll still need any six months from now but between you and me, I’ll probably think of a reason to tell my Urologist why I require a continuation of my prescription.  My blog stats that report the search terms readers use who stumble upon my content report numerous queries for the affect of Cialis and Viagra on running.  Out of curiosity, I finally searched these terms myself.  Turns out Viagra was initially promoted as an athletic performance enhancer.  Long story short, it’s the latest thing as there are currently no tests or bans.  Brandon Marshall, an ex-Bronco wide receiver, is quoted here speaking on the pervasive use of Viagra as a performance enhancer in Pro Football.

I continued reading the Internet until I found some actual studies.  The non-brand name for Viagra is Sildenafil.  This is a PDE5 inhibitor that works by relaxing blood vessels which in turn allows blood to flow more easily – whether in the penis or the lungs.  This first study is an extensive read but goes into great detail about just how Sidenafil works to enhance oxygen absorption at high altitudes.  This second study is a much more concise read and suggests more clearly that these effects only occur at very high altitude – around 13,000 feet and higher.  Pair this with the first study reporting that not everyone responds to these benefits.  Oh, and consider that these drugs can affect your heart.  I can actually think of races I’ve run at 13,000 feet.  The Imogene Pass Run comes to mind.  Mostly though I will rarely be in an event where this could possibly come into play.  Same goes for you.  And how embarrassing would it be to explain why you died from a heart attack due to taking Cialis or Viagra for your run?  Perhaps most important to know, this drug is fairly expensive and only partially covered by insurance.

I carried three 3 ounce containers of pickle juice with me during the Denver Marathon. I struggle with cramps, typically near the 23 mile point, in marathons.  I’ve had success by managing my electrolyte intake, but I still tend to cramp afterward. Drinking pickle juice is said to counter the effects of cramping quicker than anything else you can do.  Supposedly within 90 seconds of drinking the stuff.  Clearly your stomach hasn’t processed anything in 90 seconds, so it is suggested that the juice triggers nerves in your throat.  Who knows?

I felt my legs come close to cramping late in the Denver Marathon and drank my pickle juice before the onset of actual cramps in an effort to stave them off in a preventative fashion.  I swear to you this worked.  I also drank some afterward as I was cramping and my cramps dissipated within seconds.  Stuff works.  I bought the 3 ounce containers at REI in their camping gear section for a couple of dollars and filled them up with standard dill pickle juice.  This will be part of my marathon gear going forward.

Cannabis is a worthy topic considering I live in Colorado.  I find this hard to believe but the World Anti-Doping Agency classifies weed as a banned performance enhancer.  Seriously?  Fast Times at Ridgemont High didn’t show Spicoli winning any track races.  Apparently some study was conducted that indicates cannabis might enhance airflow to the lungs.  In other words – pot is a bronchiodilator.  I refuse to believe this but then there are other factors.  They claim THC decreases anxiety (Indica maybe but certainly not Sativa) which can help athletes remain relaxed.  So maybe marijuana helps some athletes in specific sports.  Ricky Williams was certainly a fan of playing football stoned.  Running is different.  There is nothing specifically technical about running where focus or anxiety matters much.  I do believe in the purported analgesic qualities of cannabis, but ibuprofen is likely more cost effective.  Granted, pills aren’t organic.

My position is that cannabis is an experience enhancer.  You might enjoy running more stoned than sober.  Indeed, running creates natural endocannabinoids in your body, along with endorphins.  Clearly, not with the intensity of a bong hit.  I advise considering trails over high-traffic, urban areas when running stoned – to avoid cars.  I just can’t accept cannabis as a performance enhancer for runners though.  Nobody talks about it being a problem with elite runners.  Anything that takes the edge off is fine for recreation but won’t help you win any races.  If you think it helps you run faster, you’ve been smokin’ something.  If they don’t dope race horses with it, then it’s not a performance enhancer.

Finally, I think listening to music is about on par with smoking weed.  It’s an experience enhancer.  I’ve actually studied my Garmin stats from running with and without music and my results overwhelmingly demonstrate that I run slower with music.  Both in races and for training runs.  I found that my pace was less consistent on runs while listening to music.  Apparently I speed up to some songs but then slow down.  I haven’t heard of others reporting on their measured experiences.  I know everyone thinks they run faster to music, but tell me if you’ve actually recorded your stats.

Lastly, for anyone wanting to challenge my observations as unscientific, as anecdotal at best; let me just point out that you’re the one reading some inane blog for performance advice.  You’re no better than Lance.